As the Sochi Winter Olympics draw near, the focus of the world seems to be mostly on the security, and not the athletes. These are certainly threats to take seriously; however, the Winter Olympics are and will continue to be one of the safest places in the world from now through the end of the winter games.
Mikhail (Misha) Myagkov, the Vice President of Student Affairs at the Skolkovo Institute of Technology in Moscow, Ph.D. in political science from the California Institute of Technology, and an expert on Russian politics, said that the War on Terror is, “an international problem that all countries are aware of.” Myagkov often comments on how things in Russia aren’t always done with the most efficiency. However, he went on to add that he was “impressed with how much effort the Russians have put in.”
Obviously there are some events that will be more secure than others. For example, a hockey arena is much easier to police than a cross-country skiing course. But, “given the resources and effort, the chances for significant events are low,” he said.
Major news networks such as BBC and ESPN have described Sochi as being completely cut off from the rest of the world. In addition to there being over 100,000 security personnel present, it is impossible to get anywhere near the city unless you have sufficient authorization. The only areas that are even remotely vulnerable to attack are the transportation stations outside of Sochi. It is hard to imagine that terrorist groups would waste their resources on such small targets.
Something else to think about: are the Olympics in Sochi the only place in the world where a large number of people are gathering? There are any number of sporting events (World Cup) and concerts going on around the world that attract hundreds of thousands of people. Certainly threats should not be taken lightly. But out of all of the large events where terrorism is a possibility, the Winter Olympics are probably the safest.
Finally, from a terrorist’s perspective, wouldn’t an attack be more successful if it were a surprise? If Muslim extremists had told the United States and they were going to attack the World Trade Center or Pentagon, they probably would not have gotten very far on September 11th. Also, by making threats ahead of time, the terrorist attacks have technically already been carried out. People are walking around scared to death, which is exactly what terrorist groups want to accomplish.
Mikhail (Misha) Myagkov, Vice President of Student Affairs at the Skolkovo Institute of Technology